First double OT game nets rare win over Pines
MEDFORD BOYS HOCKEY
It’s a rare occasion for Northland Pines to be at the low end of the Great Northern Conference hockey standings, but that didn’t make Medford’s 5-4 double-overtime win Tuesday at Eagle River’s dome any less exciting for the Raiders.
Connor Gowey capped his second hat trick of the season with the game-winning goal 2:48 into the second overtime. This was the first time since the WIAA implemented its three-onthree double-overtime rule last season that Medford has been in such a game. The Raiders wouldn’t have gotten their shot to win in it had it not been for last-minute goals by defenseman Cameron Bull in the second and third periods and 44 saves from senior goal tender Ben Brunner, including a big one on a short breakaway chance the Eagles got earlier in the second overtime.
Both teams burned off penalties in the first eight-minute overtime to extend the game to the extra session with more open ice for skaters to work with.
“We enjoyed it. It was fun,” Medford head coach Galen Searles said of the threeon- three period. “You can definitely see how games are won sooner rather than later. You can see why the NHL did it a few years ago so overtimes don’t take as long. Oddman rushes definitely happen more.”
The game ended on an exchange of rushes. The Eagles got their chance when they snuck a skater behind a Raider forward and a perfect pass gave that skater a one-on-one shot with Brunner, who made the play.
“Ben said he was very scared at that moment, but he came up huge,” Searles said.
The Raiders eventually carried the puck back the other way with Brayden Machon getting it to Gowey, who did the rest.
“Connor took the puck wide and the goalie came way out,” Searles said. “Connor fired the puck from a tough angle and found the net to get his hat trick on a game winner.”
The win put the Raiders at 1-6 after roundrobin play in the GNC while Pines fell to an unheard of 0-7. Medford (5-11) clinched the seventh seed in the upcoming GNC tournament, which starts Tuesday, and will travel to the second seed, who is yet to be determined. The eighth-seeded Eagles (2-12) will get the top seed.
Lakeland and Rhinelander are currently tied atop the league at 5-1, while Mosinee finished the round-robin at 5-2. Lakeland hosts Waupaca (4-2) Friday and Rhinelander hosts Antigo (4-2) tonight, Thursday.
The victory was Medford’s first over Northland Pines since a 6-5 overtime win at Eagle River on Feb. 9, 2004. Pines had won 32 straight games over Medford squads since then, including two 3-2 overtime games in the 2004-05 season.
Tuesday’s contest didn’t get off to the greatest start for Medford. An early hooking penalty led to a power play goal for Pines’ Matthew Szafranski 3:55 in.
Medford got hit with a hooking penalty and a major checking from behind penalty in the last minute of the opening period, which led to Szafranski’s goal in a five-on-three situation 34 seconds into the second.
“During that first intermission we said it’s a tight game right now, we just have to weather the storm,” Searles said. “Two of our three available defensemen were going to start in the box. Kaden Kennedy was our defenseman left. I put Miles (Searles) back there for a bit. We made it through unscathed.”
That was because Gowey made up for the power-play goal, by getting a shorthanded one at 2:00 with an Isaac Schaefer assist. The Eagles went up 3-1 at 12:38 with a Gaige Marien goal, but Gowey scored unassisted at 13:21 to make it a 3-2 game.
“Connor was back to being a sniper for us,” Searles said. “That’s something he’s improved on as the year has gone on. He’s back to looking like the Connor I remember from his youth days where he was handling and carrying the puck and just beating guys with his shot.”
Szafranski capped his hat trick for Pines with this third goal at 15:10, but just over a minute later, Bull got his first goal to pull the Raiders within 4-3, somehow finding the net on what Searles thought was a nearly impossible angle from the corner.
Bull ended a tense and, up to that point, scoreless third period by burying a shot with 34 seconds left off a Schaefer assist to send the game to overtime, where Medford was unable to capitalize on Pines penalties at 1:14 and 6:13, while Medford got through a high-sticking call at 5:18. “Our top skaters like Miles, Connor and Brayden were so exhausted at the end,” coach Searles said. “They played a lot. Everybody played a lot. It was a pretty quiet bus ride on the way back.” The Raiders hope to carry the excitement and momentum into the last two non-conference games of the regular season, both of which are rematches from wins earlier in the season. The Chequamegon Co-op is in Medford tonight, Thursday, for a 7 p.m. face-off and the Shawano Co-op is in town for a 5 p.m. start on Saturday.
Medford beat Chequamegon 5-4 in overtime for its first win back on Nov. 23 and shut out Shawano 4-0 on Dec. 28.